Symposium 2016: Are people who choose to have pets rather than children discriminated against? With the perception that pets are now part of a family, should laws be changed to prevent businesses from discriminating against people who have pets?

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent- As a proud dog-Mom I would say yes! Now, let me clarify, I KNOW my dog is NOT a child nor do I treat him like one. However, he’s expensive! I keep him up to date on shots, feed him, take him to the vet for ear infections, buy him toys and treats, new beds, $22 a night when we leave town, the list goes on. Also, he was adopted from our local Humane Society a Non-profit. I think we are discriminated against for the sheer fact we can’t deduct a portion of their care. But, that’s not really what this question is about. Continue reading

Symposium 2016: Should drivers be required to pass annual driving tests to improve road safety?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- If you think the wait times at the DMV are long now, wait until an idea like this one takes hold.  I think it’s ridiculous to propose yearly driving tests, although I wouldn’t argue with making them mandatory every 7 years or so, or more frequently if a driver has been found guilty of offenses like DUI and texting while driving, which indicate a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of motoring.  The average person’s faculties don’t deteriorate significantly enough from year to year to make an annual driving test anything other than a tremendous waste of time and resources. Continue reading

Symposium 2016: Should we cut our territories and possessions loose and let them be independent nations?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- Let’s look at Puerto Rico as an example for the purposes of this question.  Not only do the vast majority of people there not want to be independent, support for statehood is nearing all-time highs.  Rather than cutting them loose, I say we make PR a state and stop letting the country degenerate into a third-world sinkhole.  Bad investments, poor civil planning and insanely inept governance has turned what should be a tropical paradise into a poor cousin to the U.S.  Bringing the country into the fold would help all those problems, and in the end we would bear an economic boon as a result.  Our other territories are by and large small locales that likely wouldn’t survive on their own, and I don’t really see the benefit in cutting them loose. Continue reading

Symposium 2016: There have been a number of former military generals appointed to top cabinet and related positions within the upcoming Trump administration. Is there a conflict with civilian government versus military control in these appointments?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- In a Trump led administration there would not be a conflict with civilian government versus military control in these appointments as the Constitution does not prohibit the president from appointing military officers to any executive branch position, and Congress does not have a role in determining the nominees.

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Symposium 2016: The idea of real men, “Alpha Males,” and manhood in general seems to have taken a long detour from the American landscape. Is society in a downfall because of this phenomenon, and is there anything constructive that can be done to bring manhood back from the brink?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- I am fortunate enough to have found one of the few remaining women who not only “lets” me run the household, but outright demands that I “be the man” in our daily affairs.  I’m not a dictator, but when the final decision comes, it’s mine to make for good or ill.  I am not a strutting egomaniac or petty tyrant, but when I deal with others my self-confidence usually gets me the outcome I desire.  For too long, alpha males have been lumped in with guys who are pushy and overly aggressive because they actual lack confidence and real masculinity.  I eat those guys for breakfast, and any woman worth her salt won’t give them the time of day.  Alpha males built this country, and it’s time for them to reclaim their status and realize that there’s not a damned thing wrong with being male. Continue reading

Symposium 2016: Many elite educators, politicians and bureaucrats believe that homeschooling deprives students of “in the classroom experience.” Current education secretary, John King feels that students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids.” Does homeschooling limit student learning, or is it a viable education alternative?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- To claim that homeschooled students are “deprived” of in the classroom experience implies that all classroom experiences are desirable. What is so desirable about a classroom that contains forty students, is led by a teacher who has no control over the class’s behavior and may not even be qualified to teach the subject, and contains one or more children who are intent on either disrupting the class or doing physical harm to students or even the teacher? Continue reading

Symposium 2016: The Senate Judiciary has conducted hearings on the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner (owner of CNN). Is this a viable merger and will it influence the press/media and democracy in years to come?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- If the AT&T and Time Warner merger does materialize, it would represent a large concentration of power between a distributor (AT&T) and a maker/ creator of content (Time Warner). The merger is not one in which two warring companies want to merge to reduce competition as AT&T has already tried that  when it attempted to buy T-Mobile in 2011, and was stopped by the federal government.  Continue reading

Symposium 2016: There is an ongoing controversy raging as to whether Uber is an internet transportation connection as opposed to a full transportation provider. In reality, is Uber a full transportation provider due to the services it offers?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- The radical within me cheers services like Uber and Lyft for the way they are overturning the applecart and making the ossified taxi system in most cities scramble to compete.  On a recent visit to St. Paul, Minn., I took three cab rides and four Uber rides.  All three cabs were in dire need of maintenance, and the first one reeked of burger grease so strongly that my fiancee’s coat had to go to the cleaners.  Three of the four Uber drivers were highly professional, driving very comfortable newer-model vehicles and charging about half what the cab would have. The fourth was a very odd woman who played a radio evangelist on the radio while keeping a top speed of 45 on the busy freeway, but at least the car was clean.  The fact, however, is that Uber is a full transportation provider.  The last Uber driver told me that Uber had helped her get the car she was driving, and if that’s not akin to Yellow Cab providing the battered old Dodge van in which we were picked up at the airport, I’m not sure what is.  I hate the idea that changing its status will make Uber a less attractive option, but I can’t deny the facts. Continue reading

Symposium 2016: On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump emphatically promised to get rid of Common Core. Should Trump and his Department of Education nominee, Betsy DeVos dismantle the national education standards? What should replace them?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- There’s not a bloody thing wrong with Common Core, and it should be left alone.  I’m not sure Mr. Trump quite had a grasp of the situation when he made that statement, so I’m going to give him a pass.  The forces crying out against Common Core are the same ones who tell us there’s no such thing as bad teachers, accountability and performance evaluations for educators are tools of the devil and more homework is the solution to all of society’s ills.  Common Core forces schools to give children the tools they need to succeed in the real world, and while it’s not a perfect system by any stretch, it’s better than any of its counter-proposals. I would like to see far more STEM programs included, and that movement does seem to be gaining steam, but overall I’m happy with leaving Common Core as it is. Continue reading

Symposium 2016: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is set to undergo repeal or possible major changes in the near future. Will those changes be of benefit to those in need of coverage, or should the plan be abandoned altogether?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- The Congress is soon to be at work on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA-Obamacare), and the changes, which have been proposed through Dr. Tom Price’s Empowering Patients First Act and other House Republican alternatives to Obamacare will most likely provide partial to full replacement of the Affordable  Care Act. Continue reading